Thursday, November 2, 2017

"A game by Scott Rogers"

Like most of you, I have been eagerly awaiting the release of Rayguns and Rocketships. I have been hearing reports of the game showing up in Australia, New South Wales and even one store in Seattle. It's been very exciting to track the game as it is released around the world.

The day has finally arrived and my copies of the game were delivered from IDW games. I came home to a huge stack of games. Needless to say, IDW did a beautiful job not only producing the game, but shipping it and it was very exciting to receive my shipment.

Receiving the final retail version of Rayguns and Rocketships marks a milestone for me. You see, for 22 years, I've been fortunate enough to say that my career is "game designer". I've helped design more than 50 published games and have been involved making even more that were never published.

But Rayguns and Rocketships is the first game I've created that has my name on the cover. Outside of the board gaming world, it's actually a very rare thing for a game designer to receive this honor. I can only think of a handful of video game creators who have earned this honor.

It is far more common in the board gaming industry and while it might not seem like a huge thing, it represents something all game designers deserve - credit for their hard work.

There have been too many moments over my career where I have seen other people take credit for someone else's work or someone has tried to take credit for my work. Once a game looks like it is going to be successful, people get weird and start trying to "credit grab" - as if having their name on a box cover or on the game screen will justify their involvement - no matter how slight it was.

The "problem" is that credit does have power.  A credit isn't about ego or bragging rights, well, not for everyone. What it represent, to me, is proof to the world that this specific creator is responsible for the work. Names become a "proof of quality". Walt Disney. Stephen King. Oprah Winfrey. David Bowie. People buy their products because they recognize the names and associate the names with good work. There is a saying in the entertainment industry: "you are only as good as your last credit" and kids, credits are everything in this business.

In the early 90's, many of my peers were getting their names on the covers of their games. You probably have heard of some of them: Sid Meier, Tim Schafer, Will Wright, Chris Roberts, Chris Taylor. While literally thousands of people have toiled away on games, almost none of them get the credit they deserve. Did you know that Shigeru Miyamoto, the father of Mario and creator of the platfoming genre, who has made some of the best selling games ever made, has NEVER has his name on the cover of any of his games? Would a screenplay writer or a novelist put up with that? No way.  I can tell people that I've worked on this AAA game or that top-selling game, but if my name ain't in the credits, there's no way to prove that I was even involved.

Personally, I think it's time to correct this injustice. I've always said that if there were a reason for the video game industry to unionize, it would be for credit arbitration - something that's a big deal in the movie industry. I've left jobs before over this issue; it's that important to me.

So, this one is for you, my fellow game designers, wherever you are. May you share the same good fortune as I have had and get the credit you finally deserve.

The Jack Vasel Memorial Auction

The Jack Vasel Memorial Auction is a great annual event that raises fund for the Jack Vasel Memorial Fund. From the website:

One tragic event and two acts of generosity brought the BGG community together: the result was the Jack Vasel Memorial Fund. In January 2011, Cate Pfeifer (Cate108) posted an auction for Tom Vasel and his family to help with the financial hardship related to the unfortunate loss of his son, Jack. The generosity of the BGG community was amazing. Tom was touched and wanted to pay the kindness forward so he created the Jack Vasel Memorial Fund. He used some of the money that BGGers donated and spent to build this fund. The fund is a not-for-profit with a simple goal: raising and distributing funds to help gamers in their hour of need.

This year, I've contributed a premium copy of Rayguns and Rocketships to the auction. One lucky bidder will win all of the following:

1. Signed and Illustrated copy of the retail game
The auction includes an autographed copy of the retail version of the game. Designer Scott Rogers will also draw the Rayguns and Rocketships character of your choice on the interior box lid!

Example of illustration

2. Plastic tokens and bag
Plastic Blast token and Action token add-ons plus cloth bag (with design voted upon by the Kickstarter backers)

3. Dice and cards
Kickstarter exclusive secret mission cards (12) and four faction dice

4. Cards and rayguns
Convention-Only Exclusive demo four card set and twenty-four plastic raygun add-ons

5. Exclusive minis
A full set of eight Kickstarter Mercenary miniatures and captain cards

Starting bid is at $70 (the cost of the Early Bird Galactic Adventurer pledge) Condition is brand new. Worldwide shipping will be added at the end of the auction.

Expected delivery date - January 2018

Auction ends November 16th! Thanks for bidding and good luck!!

Link to bidding is here:

Music to shoot rayguns to...

As we rocket towards the release of Rayguns and Rocketships, I created a play-list of thematic music that is great to play the game to. Enjoy!

Mars - Bringer of War (Gustav Holst) (7:21)

Zathura Soundtrack: Zorgon's Return (John Debney) (1:07)

Flash Gordon Soundtrack: Vultan's Theme (Queen) (1:13)

Flash Gordon Soundtrack: The Battle (Queen) (2:18)

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow Soundtrack: Robot Army (Edward Shearmur) (3:01)

Sky Captain and World of Tomorrow Soundtrack: The Flying Wings Attack (Edward Shearmur) (6:31)

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow Soundtrack: Manta Squadron (Edward Shearmur) (6:33)

Zathura Soundtrack: They Aren't Friendly (John Debney) (2:25)

Star Wars Return of the Jedi Soundtrack: Sail Barge Assault (Alternate) (John Williams) (5:06)

 Starship Troopers: Klendathu Drop (Basil Poledouris) (4:32)

Star Wars Return of the Jedi Soundtrack: Battle of Endor I (John Williams) (11:50)

Rocketeer Soundtrack: The Flying Circus (James Horner) (6:30)

 Captain America: Captain America March (Alan Silvestri) (2:35)

 Star Wars The Force Awakens: The Resistance March (John Williams) (2:37)

Zathura Soundtrack: Main Theme (John Debney) (2:23)

Starship Troopers: Destruction of the Rodger Young (Basil Poledouris) (3.28)

Zathura Soundtrack: Zathura is a Black Hole (John Debney) (1:20)

 Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow: Main Title (Edward Shearmur) (1:07)

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Meet the Planeteers: Professor Vulkov

 "That pain you are experiencing? That pain is called science."

Professor Vulkov is, of course, based on one the most loved archetypes found in pulp science-fiction:  the mad scientist. I started thinking about the Ur-character of this archetype: Professor Zarkov from Flash Gordon.
Hans Zarkov from Flash Gordon

Thinking about Zarkov made me think more about modern mad scientists from fiction - including one from one of my favorite video games - the Medic from Team Fortress 2. 

Professor Vulkov's healing ray was inspired by the medic's healing gun but I already felt like there were plenty of male characters in the game. The medic's glasses reminded me of another character...

...The Baroness from GI Joe. But I also wanted players to underestimate the Professor when they saw her miniatures on the table. So instead I looked to another video game for inspiration: Space Channel 5.

All of these elements combined into a strangely compelling mix which resulted in the following concept art:

Concept art by Scott Rogers
3D model by Kaleb Rice

As a young girl, Professor Vulkov graduated at the top of her class from the Imperial Science Academy when she accidentally disintegrated her fellow classmates during final exams. This act earned her the position of chief inventor at the Voight Neurolizer Company where she spent many years developing and improving weaponry for the Lord High Master Mizra Khan.

When Mizra Khan's empire collapsed after the Starbreaker incident, Professor Vulkov decided to diversify her allegiances and become a mercenary captain. She finds that the frequent battles between the Planeteer factions gives her ample opportunities to field-test her latest inventions.

Professor Vulkov's inventiveness can be felt in many ways on her captain card. Her Healing Ray attack reads: This attack has a range of 4. If Prof. Vulkov makes a successful ranged attack, she may remove 1 blast token from the target instead of dealing damage. While Tricksy allows her to spend 3 action tokens to replace the currently played command card with one from your hand. Discard the first card.

You'll find that Professor Vulkov is the perfect leader for your Planeteer faction if you want to cause a little trouble in the name of science!

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Meet the Planeteers: Krith Al Marl

"He said nothing as he raised his gauntlet and gunned down every Planeteer on the rocketship."

Out of all of the characters created for Rayguns and Rocketships, Krith Al Marl is the oldest I have ever created. He was a character that I first drew when I was creating an unpublished a science-fiction comic. Sadly, no art from the original comic longer exists.

Krith Al Marl is based on two huge influences from my teenage years. The first was from the Empire Strikes Back sketchbook that I got for my birthday in 1980, There I was re-introduced to the Mandlorean Super-Commando named Boba Fett. 

By that point, I already owned the Kenner mail-away action figure of Boba Fett. I still remember gasping in surprise as my older brother peeled away the sticker on the back of the card, revealing Boba Fett's rocket-launching ability. But learning that Fett's armor also opened up to reveal hidden weapons kickstarted my imagination. I love Boba Fett as seen in the movies, but man-oh-man, he could have been so much cooler if he had just gotten a chance to use that hidden arsenal.

The other huge inspiration was Frank Frazetta's Death Dealer. In the early 80's I was in a D&D fueled frenzy. I bought Robert E. Howard books like they were going out of style. I consumed Ralph Bakshi's Lord of the Rings movie and owned the (now-stupid expensive) Ringwraith action figure (which I sadly no longer own). I adore the visual of a mysterious warrior with burning red eyes. All my geeky teenage passions were combined into to create this mysterious warrior from long-dead planet Byss.

Concept art by Scott Rogers
3D model by Simon Grell
Color guide by Scott Rogers
The centurions of Byss were once the most feared warriors in the galaxy. Known by their distinctive weapon-studded armor, the Byssians were hunted down and exterminated by Mizra Khan’s Imperial Army. Only one Byss Centurion survives – Krith Al Marl – a mysterious figure who now works as a captain for the highest bidder. In the ancient Byssian language, "Krith Al Marl" translates to "The Dragon of  Destruction" There are very few Planeteers that cross this devastating warrior's path and live to tell the tale.
Krith Al Marl's deadliness is reveal in Hidden Weapons: Krith Al Marl may re-roll a ranged or melee combat roll once per turn. The Omni-targeting System housed in his helmet allows him to use the following ability: Once per game, if Krith makes a successful ranged combat attack, he may deal 1 damage to all crew members up to 2 spaces away. You can wipe out an entire crew of enemy Planeteers if you play this ability at the right time! Krith Al Marl might be the deadliest character in the game!

Keep checking back for more great characters from Rayguns and Rocketships!